Managing the Project Schedule

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1 Managing the Project Schedule Project Skills Paul Newton ISBN

2 Copyright Notice All Rights Reserved ISBN The material contained within this electronic publication is protected under International and Federal Copyright Laws and treaties, and as such any unauthorized reprint or use of this material is strictly prohibited. You may not copy, forward, or transfer this publication or any part of it, whether in electronic or printed form, to another person, or entity. Reproduction or translation of any part of this work without the permission of the copyright holder is against the law. Your downloading and use of this ebook requires, and is an indication of, your complete acceptance of these Terms of Use. You do not have any right to resell or give away part, or the whole, of this ebook.

3 Table of Contents Preface 2 Visit Our Website 3 Introduction 4 Managing the Project Schedule 10 Defining the Project Activities 15 Sequencing the Project Activities 21 Estimating the Resources Required 27 Estimating the Time Required 29 Developing the Schedule 35 Controlling the Schedule 46 Summary 50 Other Free Resources 51 References 52 ISBN

4 Preface This free ebook describes the process of managing the project schedule. Most project management software programs will help you with managing the time line of the project schedule but they are no substitute for being able to identify activities, sequence them and estimate the time and resources required to complete them. You will learn: The six steps required to manage a project schedule How to draw a network diagram The principle of rolling wave planning How to estimate the resources and duration of your project The principles of float and resource levelling ISBN

5 Visit Our Website More free management ebooks (FME) along with a series of essential templates and checklists for managers are all available to download free of charge to your computer, ipad, or Amazon Kindle. The FME online library offers you over 500 free resources for your own professional development. Our ebooks, Checklists, and Templates are designed to help you with the management issues you face every day. We are adding new titles every month, so don t forget to check our website regularly for the latest releases. Visit ISBN

6 Introduction Costs are not the only things that need to be estimated and managed during a project time is just as important, if not more so. When getting started on a project, it is crucial to set an accurate time line for the upcoming work so that progress can be made and goals can be met successfully. When too much time is allocated for a project, things might not get done as quickly as they could have otherwise. If not enough time is permitted, the team may get frustrated by constantly falling behind and the work could suffer. Managing the Project Schedule Defines milestones Defines the time element of a project Determine delivery dates The ability to accurately forecast the project schedule is something that is developed with experience and through trial and error. It should be rather obvious why schedule management is so important when it comes to running any kind of project within your organization. If you don t manage time successfully, resources or opportunities are sure to be wasted. The more time that employees are spending on a specific project, the more expensive that project becomes. When a one-month project ends up taking two, the costs in some areas of the budget are likely to be doubled potentially turning a successful endeavor into a failure. It isn t good enough in most cases to just get a project finished. Rather, it needs to be finished and kept on time and on budget in order to be deemed a success. ISBN

7 While each individual project will undergo a slightly different scheduling process depending on the specific elements involved, there are generally two facets that a project manager will go through with respect to time. Managing the Project Schedule Project Activities Project Estimations Develop Schedule Defining Sequencing Resources Time Controlling Schedule Planning the Work These are the activities that occur before the project even gets started. The manager and other members of the team will work together to break the overall project down into smaller segments and allocate a certain period of time for each. At this point, it is also important that the various steps of the project are organized in a sequence that will be most time-effective for everyone on the team. For example, if one department can t get started on their portion of the project until another department is finished, this sequencing will need to be taken into account. Define Activities identifies tasks required to produce project deliverables so that resources & time can be estimated One of the vital elements that needs to be considered during the planning process is experience with the various tasks that will be conducted. This is why it is so helpful to involve team members who may have worked on similar types of projects previously. As a project manager, you might not have the relevant experience with some of the specific tasks that is needed to accurately allot time for them to be finished. By working with a member of your team who is an expert in that particular task, they should be able to tell you what a reasonable amount of time is for the work that will be done. ISBN

8 Decomposition subdivides the deliverables WBS to Work Package Level where able to reliably estimate Cost & Time Bringing in experience is a valuable benefit that should be taken advantage of whenever possible. A significant part of this work involves the process of decomposition and taking the work packages down to its lowest level in the work breakdown structure (WBS). Having identified each work package theses must then be put into a sequential order to develop the project schedule and to discern the type of dependencies that exist between them. Types of Dependencies Mandatory Discretionary External Then the amount of resources required and time needed to perform each activity must be estimated and developed into a final project schedule. Now having planned how the project will be performed in terms of its activities as project manager you need to ensure that it runs according to the time plan that has been agreed. ISBN

9 Controlling the Work Once the project gets underway, the scheduling portion of the job is still very much in play. Now that the timeline has been planned, it needs to be carefully monitored along the way to ensure that it is accurate and reasonable. If certain tasks are taking longer or less time than expected, for example, those changes should quickly be made to the overall timeline. Control the Project Schedule Working the Plan Determine current status Influencing factors that cause schedule changes Identify when Schedule has changed Manage the changes It is generally inevitable that there will be adjustments to your schedule along the way, but those adjustments will be easier to deal with if they are made early on the process. Accurate reporting is another crucial piece of the time puzzle. Having specific checkpoints along the way that are pre-determined will make it easier for you to track the progress of the project as a whole and the progress of individual team members within the project. There are certain key documents that are shown in the diagram below that are needed as inputs to controlling the project schedule. Items needed to Develop & Control Project Schedule Project Management Plan Project Schedule Work Performance Data Project Calendars Schedule Data Cultural & Organizational Guidelines ISBN

10 Without accurate and reliable reporting, it will be basically impossible to follow along with the progress of the project and make amendments to the schedule as needed. A good project manager will be consistent about tracking progress and will require the same of all the team members involved. Closing the Process As mentioned earlier, experience is a big part of being able to accurately time a project from start to finish. So, when a given project is finishing up, that is a great time to review what has taken place and how long it has taken. While it might be too late to adjust the timeline for the current project, this information can be incredibly valuable for future work. Which parts of the job took longer than was planned? Which parts went fast? What kind of steps could be taken in future projects to streamline the process and lower the overall time needed to reach completion? There are many questions that can be asked during the closing process, and much valuable information to be gained. Discipline is required when the project is nearing a close because it is tempting to just be done with the project and move on to the next. The is especially true when you have been working on the same project for months or even years you may be tired of dealing with it and hoping to work on something new. However, having the discipline to go through the closing process and analyze your time management successes and failures will help make you a better project manager down the line. Projects are all about time. Getting them done on time means they are more likely to stay on budget, and they are more likely to meet the needs of those above you. There are several modeling techniques that you can use to assess different scenarios and the element of risk attached to each one. These schedule scenarios are then compared to the schedule baseline and the project management plan for alignment and the one with the best fit will be selected. ISBN

11 Tools used to Control Project Schedule Performance Reviews Project Management Software Resource Optimization Techniques Modelling Techniques Leads & Lags Schedule Compression Scheduling Tool Good time planning is a skill that can be developed with experience, but even a new project manager can have some success simply by asking the right questions and relying on the right people. Going into a project with an open-ended deadline is just asking for trouble, and is a sure way to waste resources as well. Learn how to stay on time and you will be a big step closer to leading productive projects. ISBN

12 Managing the Project Schedule Managing the project schedule includes all of the steps required to ensure the timely completion of the project. It involves determining the delivery dates and milestones whilst taking all of the known constraints into account. Generally speaking the level of detail needed is proportional to the level of risk and uncertainty associated with the activity. For this reason schedule planning should be carried out with the input of the project team that is going to actually do the work. Managing the Project Schedule Determine Delivery Dates Define Milestones This ensures that the sequencing and activity duration estimates are as realistic as possible as just as importantly, that the team feel as though have some ownership of them rather than seeing them as something that has been imposed on them. Managing the schedule is sometimes seen as the core discipline of project management and some software tools focus almost exclusively on this aspect. It is a logical way of taking the project plan and creating a sequence and schedule for producing the project deliverables. It is required through all phases of the project lifecycle and is normally derived at a high level during the initiation process in order to provide a framework in which the project plan can evolve as the project iterates between planning, execution and monitoring. ISBN

13 Collective Decision Making Meetings are where most decisions occur is key for Project success Agenda Effective Chair Project Meetings must have Clear & single Aim Timed defined items Retains control Everyone contributes Collective decision-making is very important area of project management that can make or break this part of the project. Almost all of the project processes that form part of project schedule management will involve meetings between the project manager, the team and other stakeholders in order to make decisions about the activity definitions and associated estimates. How well these meetings are conducted will have a major impact on how smoothly the project runs. These meetings need to have a clear agenda and a chairman who can keep them running on schedule. If you do not take steps to make this happen then these meetings can easily become bogged down and fail to produce the required outputs when they are needed. When estimating work it is inevitable that there will be disagreements about the time required and the resources needed. People will have different opinions of how much effort is involved to complete an activity based on similar work they have undertaken in the past. This type of disagreement is to be expected and only becomes a problem when discussions are allowed to drag on beyond the point when a reasonable estimate could be made. For example, early on in this process it really does not matter if an estimate for an activity duration is 5 days or 8 days. This is something that will become clear once the work starts. ISBN

14 A good chairman working to a properly timed agenda can ensure that good enough decisions are made in a timely manner and that project team members are not left idle because the planning process is overrunning. If you feel as though your project meetings could be improved then you can download the Meeting Skills ebooks from this website. These free ebooks cover all aspects of meetings including how to set an agenda that will ensure that the meeting achieves it s aims and how to chair a meeting so that it is as productive as possible. Managing the project schedule involves planning the work and working the plan as follows: Project Activities Defining Sequencing Managing the Project Schedule Project Estimations Resources Time Develop Schedule Controlling Schedule Defining the Activities the high-level requirements are broken down into high-level tasks or deliverables. These are then broken down into activities and presented in the form of WBS (Work Breakdown Structure). Sequencing the Activities the activities identified in the previous step should be sequenced based on the order in which they need to be done depending on their interdependencies. Estimating the Resources Required the estimation of the amount and the types of resources required for activities is done in this step. The project management team will need a clear understanding of resource availability and capability. ISBN

15 Estimating the Time Required this is a key step in the project planning process and there are a number of tools that can also be utilized to help you to estimate the required activity resources. Most of the organizations follow either Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) based estimating or Function Points based estimates in this step. Once the activity estimates are completed, the critical path of the project should be identified in order to determine the total project duration. This is one of the key inputs for the project schedule management. Developing the Schedule in order to create an accurate schedule, several parameters from the previous steps are required including: the activity sequence, duration of each activity, and the resource requirements. Software packages, like as Microsoft Project, can help you to develop a project schedule including planning diagrams that can help to present the relevant information in a way that makes it easy to understand. Controlling the Schedule is sometimes referred to as working the plan in contrast with the earlier processes which are all to do with planning the work. No project can be executed without changes to the original plans and schedules and this process will run throughout the project. On some projects, especially those of smaller scope, defining activities, sequencing activities, estimating activity resources, estimating activity durations, and developing the schedule are so tightly linked that they are viewed as a single process that can be performed by a person over a relatively short period of time. All of the activities detailed above must be preceded by a planning effort by the project management team. This planning effort produces a schedule plan that selects a scheduling methodology, a scheduling tool, and sets the format and establishes criteria for developing and controlling the project schedule. A scheduling methodology defines the rules and approaches for the scheduling process. Some of the better-known methodologies include critical path method (CPM) and critical chain. The finalized and approved schedule is the baseline that will be used to developing and control the schedule. As the project activities are being performed, the majority of effort will occur in this process to ensure completion of project work in a timely manner. ISBN

16 Key Points Managing the project schedule involves determining the delivery dates and milestones whilst taking all of the known constraints into account. It is sometimes seen as the core discipline of project management and some software tools focus almost exclusively on this aspect. It is required through all phases of the project lifecycle and is normally derived at a high level during the initiation process in order to provide a framework in which the project plan can evolve as the project iterates between planning, execution and monitoring. High-level requirements are first broken down into high-level tasks or deliverables, which are than decomposed into activities and presented in the form of a work breakdown structure. The activities identified should be sequenced based on the order in which they need to be done depending on their interdependencies. Estimates are then made of the resources required allowing for resource availability and capability. This allows estimates to be made of the time required. In order to create an accurate schedule, several parameters from the previous steps are required including: the activity sequence, duration of each activity, and the resource requirements. Software packages, like as Microsoft Project, can help you to develop a project schedule including planning diagrams that can help to present the relevant information in a way that makes it easy to understand. 4 4 Controlling the schedule is sometimes referred to as working the plan in contrast with the earlier processes which are all to do with planning the work. No project can be executed without changes to the original plans and schedules and this process will run throughout the project. ISBN

17 Defining the Project Activities The purpose of this process is to identify the specific tasks needed to be done in order to produce the project s deliverables. This needs to be done in sufficient detail to estimate what resources and time will be required to complete them. The main inputs are the scope baseline consisting of the approved project scope statement, the work breakdown structure, and the WBS dictionary. Define Activities identifies tasks required to produce project deliverables so that resources & time can be estimated This process uses decomposition to take the work packages identified in the WBS, which are nouns, and to identify the activities (which are verbs) required in order to complete them. It is essentially the bridge between the planning involved in scope management, and the planning involved in time or schedule management. The scope baseline is a component of the project plan. It is made up of: The scope statement, which includes the products scope description of the project deliverables and defines the product user acceptance criteria. The work breakdown structure (WBS), which defines each deliverable and the decomposition of the deliverable into work packages. The WBS dictionary, which contains a detailed description of work and technical documentation for each WBS element. The scope baseline is used as a starting point to breakdown the documented deliverables, as well as a guide to assure that the entire scope of the project is covered, but that the activities do not extend beyond the agreed boundaries. ISBN

18 It is described in the ebook Managing the Project Scope which can be downloaded free from this website and comprises three things the work breakdown structure, WBS dictionary and the project scope statement. There are three interrelated techniques that can be used in this process. In order to produce the activity list it is necessary to examine each work package and break it down into individual work schedule activities. As the name suggests the activity list, is a list of all the activities that must be performed within the project and each one should be linked back to just one work package (although each work package may have several activities within it). Decomposition subdivides the deliverables WBS to Work Package Level where able to reliably estimate Cost & Time The work package is the lowest level of the WBS is achieved when the work can be accurately estimated (both cost and duration) and can be managed by one individual. The key word here is managed, although the work package can be managed by one person, the actual work within the work package may be completed by several people. For example, One individual could manage work package Select and Appoint Contractor. However, the work package could be decomposed into the following activities each of which could be undertaken by a different person: 1. Specify Task Requirements 2. Identify Potential Contractors 3. Send Invitation to Tender 4. Review Tenders 5. Interview Contractors ISBN

19 6. Choose Contractor 7. Check References 8. Agree Contract Terms 9. Appoint Contractor Each activity must be complete and accurate, because it will be used to develop the project schedule. An activity is typically described using a noun and verbs such as Specify Task Requirements. Work Packages deliverable product based on Scope Activities work that needs to done to complete a work package As you can see, when the work packages are decomposed into activities in this way the result is to create an activity list, which can then be used to develop the project schedule. Remember that work packages are product or deliverable based to deliver the scope of the project, whereas activities focus on the work that needs to be carried out in order to execute such work packages. An activity has an expected duration and consumes resources in terms of manpower and/ or budget. If duration cannot be meaningfully assigned to it then it should be considered a milestone. Any Activity that you are unable to assign a meaningful duration to must be considered a Milestone ISBN

20 In the example above steps 3 and 9 would be considered a milestone rather than an activity: Step 3 Send Invitations to Tender and Step 9 Appoint Contractor The technique of decomposition, as applied to defining activities, involves subdividing the project work packages into smaller, more manageable components called activities. Activities represent the effort needed to complete a work package. Activities List Work Package Activities which create an this list is used to develop decomposes into Project Schedule The activity list, work breakdown structure, and WBS dictionary can be developed either sequentially or concurrently, with the WBS and WBS dictionary as the basis for development of the final activity list. Each work package within the WBS is decomposed into the activities required to produce the work package deliverables. Involving team members in the decomposition can lead to better and more accurate results. This decomposition will usually be carried out as part of a planning workshop involving as much expertise as necessary to ensure that the activities are accurately identified and it should be of sufficient detail to create a realistic and feasible schedule. This list would also have extra information about each activity such as constraints, assumptions, logical relationships, etc. As well as decomposing the WBS work packages, there is another technique that can help with defining the activities. Rolling wave planning (RWP) is the process of project planning in waves as the project proceeds and later details become clearer. It involves progressive elaboration and is based on the fact that activities required in the immediate ISBN

21 future will be known in greater detail than those further into the future. This means that WBS components will exist in different level of detail in the structure. Rolling Wave Planning means that work package gains more detail the closer they are to being current activities. Progressive elaboration means that the work packages are refined in greater detail over time. RWP is particularly useful in projects of high uncertainty like software development or R&D projects, where the project goal is known, but the final deliverable may change somewhat as the project progresses. Attempting to create detailed task-oriented plans for project teams in these types of environments is likely to lead to plans that are abandoned soon after being published and a great deal of project management time spent endlessly re-planning rather than actually managing the project. Rolling wave planning is more often used within IT type projects but less so within the construction industry where lack of detail in initial plans may cause huge expense later. Unfortunately many IT projects undertake the bulk of their planning too early in the lifecycle, when little concrete data is known about the problem domain, business environment, or how the team will work together. The activity list is a comprehensive list including all schedule activities required by the project. The activity list includes the activity identifier and a scope of work description for each activity in sufficient detail to ensure the project team members understand what work is required to be completed. ISBN

22 Define Activities produces... Activity List Activity Attributes Milestone List Activity attributes extend the description of the activity by identifying the components associated with each one. The components for each activity evolve over time. Activity attributes can be used to identify the person responsible for executing the work, where the work will be performed and the activity type. They are used for schedule development and for selecting, ordering and sorting the planned scheduled activities in various ways within reports. A milestone is a significant point or event in the project. A milestone list identifies all milestones and indicates whether it is mandatory such as those required by contract or optional. Key Points Defining the project activities involves identifying the specific tasks needed to be done in order to produce the project s deliverables. This process uses decomposition to take the work packages identified in the work breakdown structure, which are nouns, and to identify the activities (which are verbs) required in order to complete them. This represents the bridge between the planning involved in scope management, and the planning involved in time or schedule management. 4 4 A work package is the lowest level of the work breakdown structure, and is achieved when the work can be accurately estimated (both cost and duration) and can be managed by one individual. ISBN

23 Although the work package can be managed by one person, the actual work within the work package may be completed by several people. An activity has an expected duration and consumes resources in terms of manpower and/or budget. If duration cannot be meaningfully assigned to it then it should be considered a milestone. Decomposition involves subdividing the project work packages into smaller, more manageable components called activities, which represent the effort needed to complete a work package. Rolling wave planning is the process of project planning in waves as the project proceeds and later details become clearer. Sequencing the Project Activities Once the activities have been identified the next stage is to sequence them according to their dependencies. In other words, any relationships between activities need to be identified so that dependent activities can be scheduled to follow those that they are dependent upon. Sequence Activities Identify relationships Recognize dependent activities Develop Schedule It is important to classify any dependencies properly because they indicate the sequence in which activities must occur. There are four types of dependency relationships. A finish-to-start relationship exists if one activity must finish before another activity starts. A start-to-start relationship exists if one activity cannot start until another activity starts. ISBN

24 A finish-to-finish relationship exists if the one activity cannot finish until another activity finishes. A start-to-finish relationship exists if one activity must start before another can finish. Dependencies may be external or internal. For example, an organization may subcontract the production of some deliverable from a supplier organization and the delivery of this would represent an external dependency, one that involves some relationship outside of the project and its control. Finish to Start Start to Start Finish to Finish Start to Finish Some dependencies may exist within the project. For example, an engineer may only be able to contribute half of his time to a project, although his skills could potentially be used full time. You can check out the complete range of project management pdf ebooks free from this website. The principal output from this process is a network diagram showing the sequence of activities and their relationships. Always bear in mind that the purpose of this process is simply to find and illustrate dependencies, there are assumed to be no resource constraints. The diagram below shows the three interrelated techniques that can be used to sequence activities. ISBN

25 Sequencing Activity Tools Precedence Diagram Method Dependency Determination Applying Leads & Lags The precedence diagram is a graphical tool for scheduling activities in a project plan. It uses boxes or rectangles, referred to as nodes to represent activities and connects them with arrows to show the logical relationships that exist between them. This technique is also called Activity On Node (AON) and is the method used by most software project management packages. BEGIN A B C D G H I END E F In this example, Begin and End are both milestones. Activities A and B are not dependent on each other. Activity C is dependent on both A and B (shown as a circle). Many of the project planning software packages available use this method, which simply plots the tasks to be completed and connects them with arrows that show the dependencies. Note that each activity has an input arrow and an output arrow. ISBN

26 The only two elements that do not are the Begin and End milestones (which are not really activities). If an activity within a diagram has only one arrow then this is represents an error and needs to be corrected. Three types of dependencies are used to define the sequence among the activities: 1. Mandatory 2. Discretionary 3. External The table below shows the dependency and gives an explanation for this. Category Dependency Explanation Mandatory (hard logic) Involves physical limitations Mandatory vs. Contractual or legal obligations Discretionary Discretionary (soft logic) Based on knowledge of best practices External vs. Internal External Internal Outside of project team s control. Based on relationship of project activities and activities outside project Within project team s control. Based on relationship between project activities Mandatory dependencies are inherent in the work or process e.g. when constructing a new building, building the walls is dependent on laying the foundations. The project team determines which dependencies are mandatory to reach during the process of sequencing the activities. They are also sometimes referred to as hard logic. Discretionary dependencies are those defined by the project manager and their team. They should be defined based on best practice or previous experience within the particular area. Discretionary dependencies are sometimes referred to as preferred logic and based on knowledge of best practices within a particular application area or some unusual aspect of the project where a specific sequence is desired even though there may be other acceptable sequences. Discretionary dependencies should be fully documented since they can create arbitrary total float values and can limit later share dealing options. ISBN

27 Types of Dependencies Mandatory Discretionary External External dependencies involve a relationship between project activities and non-project activities. These dependencies are usually outside the project teams control. For example the testing activity in a software project can be dependent on the delivery of hardware from an external source. Once the dependencies are agreed they can be mapped into a precedence diagram (on PC, on paper, or using post-it notes). When drawing the precedence diagram the project team needs to decide which tasks: Can only be completed after another task Can be done at the same time Don t depend on other tasks at all (e.g. project review meetings) It can be useful to work backwards when compiling the precedence diagram and ask yourself what do we need to have done immediately before this task? You will then need to apply leads and lags. A lag directs a delay in the successor activity. For example, an IT project requires two different but similar user interfaces to be designed, interfaces A and B. Each task is scheduled to take 5 days. There is no reason why these tasks cannot be started at the same time, but it makes sense to design A first and obtain user agreement before starting work on interface B which can then be largely based on A. LAG Task A Task B ISBN

28 Therefore, the time between the start dates of the two tasks can be defined as a lag (The project manager has specified two days in this case). It is important to note that task B does not need to be completed before task A can begin but because some of the lessons learned in the design stage of task A can be directly applied to task B it will reduce the overall amount of work required if this lag is specified. Lead refers to a relationship whereby the successor activity begins before the predecessor activity has completed. Lead is only found activities with finish-to-start relationships: A must finish before B can start. In order to leverage a lead, which will compress the total combined duration of both activities, the dependency must be discretionary, meaning that there is no physical limitation on completing A before B begins. Standardized schedule network diagram templates can be used to expedite the preparation of networks of project activities. They can include an entire project or only a portion of it. Portions of a project schedule network diagram are often referred to as a sub-network or a fragment network. Sub-network templates are especially useful when a project includes several identical or nearly identical deliverables, such as floors on a high-rise office building, clinical trials on a pharmaceutical research project, coding program modules on a software project, or the start-up phase of a development project. These give rise to project schedule network diagrams, which are schematic displays of the project s schedule activities and the logical relationships among them, also referred to as dependencies. Activity 1 Activity 4 BEGIN Activity 2 Activity 5 END Activity 3 A project schedule network diagram can be produced manually or by using project management software. It can include full project details, or have one or more summary activities. A summary narrative can accompany the diagram and describe the basic ISBN

29 approach used to sequence the activities. Any unusual activity sequences within the network should be fully described within the narrative. Key Points The relationships between activities need to be identified so that dependent activities can be scheduled to follow those that they are dependent upon. There are three interrelated techniques that can be used to sequence activities: precedence diagrams, dependency determination, and sequencing leads and lags. Three types of dependencies are used to define the sequence among the activities: mandatory, discretionary, and external. Estimating the Resources Required This step involves making an estimate of the resources required to complete each activity. The previous processes described what is to be done and in what order. This process describes who will do the work. Don t spend too much time worrying about factors that you simply don t know. Remember, the key word here is estimate, whilst you should try to be as accurate as you can, remember that any figures you come up with can and will be revised during later processes. There are a number of tools that can be used to estimate the required activity resources. Tools for Estimating Activity Resources Expert Judgment Alternative Analysis Published Estimating Data Project Management Software Bottom-up Estimating ISBN

30 Expert judgment can be provided by members of the project team or by a team leader. However, it often requires an expertise that is not present within the project team and an external group or person with a specific skill set or knowledge is brought in. You may be able to make use of estimating data published by other organizations, which can provide regularly updated unit costs of a wide range of human and material resources. In this technique, the activity is compared to the activities for which data exists and the actual cost or durations of the closest comparable activity is selected from the data and used as the estimate. The advantage of this technique is that it is accurate when the project conditions match the conditions under which the published data was generated. The disadvantages are that data does not exist for many activities and that the published data that does exist is based upon the characteristics of the organizations that compiled and published it, which may not correspond to your own. Bottom-up estimating involves further decomposition of the component tasks can be individually resourced. It is basically an iteration of defining and sequencing the activities in which each task is broken down into smaller components. Then, individual estimates are developed to determine what specifically is needed to meet the requirements of each of these smaller components. The estimates for the smaller individual components are then aggregated to develop a larger estimate for the entire task as a whole. As a general rule, the smaller the scope of a task, the more accurately you can estimate it. The disadvantages of this technique is that it is very time consuming, and it may be impossible to decompose activities that cannot be easily defined. The main purpose of the activity resource estimating process is to determine the resource requirements for each activity, and therefore this is the major output item from this process. Outputs of Estimate Activity Resources Activity Resource Requirements Resource Breakdown Structure Updates to Project Documentation ISBN

31 You identify the types of resources required to perform each activity and estimate the required quantity of each identified resource. If a work package in the WBS has multiple activities, the resource estimates for those activities can be aggregated to estimate the resource requirements for the work package. The requirement documents may also include information such as the basis for each estimate, the assumptions made for the estimate, and the availability of the resources. Key Points Estimating the resources required aims to describe who will do the work. There are five tools that can be used including: expert judgment, alternative analysis, published estimating data, software and bottom-up estimating. Estimating the Time Required This step involves estimating the amount of effort required for each activity and then calculating the total duration. Effort is the work to be done whereas duration is this figure divided by estimated resources. Effort work to be done Duration effort divided by estimated resources For example, If there is a requirement to build one hundred meters of wall and a bricklayer can build 5 meters of wall in a day. The duration of the task can be calculated by dividing the length of the wall by the number of bricklayers that will be assigned to the task. Then five bricklayers could be expected to complete the task in 4 days. ISBN

32 100m wall 25m built daily by 5 bricklayer 4 days to complete wall All estimates, are to some extent uncertain at the beginning of Productivity a project and need to be Activity Units of progressively rate of Duration updated as you gain a better work idea of how efficiently work is being done and exactly what resources 5 Days resources you have available. 250m 2 You can check out the complete range 50m of Project Management PDF ebooks free from this website. 2 The time required to complete an activity depends on the resources assigned to it but there are some limitations to this. For example, Suppose it will take one operator with an earthmover four days to dig the foundations of a building. It is tempting to believe that two operators with an earthmover each could do it in two days. However, this assumption does not take account of the fact that they would need to spend time coordinating their efforts and would probably keep getting in each other s way, greatly reducing their individual efficiency. When assigning additional resources to an activity, always consider the possibility that it might reduce the overall efficiency and productivity. Most activities have a threshold beyond which assigning additional resources does not reduce the duration because of the additional overhead of communication and coordination. The resource calendar, finalized (or modified) during activity resource estimating, contains the type, quantity, availability, and capability of each resource, including the skills of a human resource, which must be considered during activity duration estimating. Capability and quantity of available resources, both human and material, can affect the activity duration estimate. ISBN

33 Estimate Activity Durations Techniques Expert Judgment Analogous Estimating Parametric Estimating Three-point Estimates Group Decision Making Technique Reserve Analysis Expert judgment using historical information from similar projects can provide duration estimates. It can also be used to reconcile different estimating methods, and to estimate the whole duration of an activity when not enough information is available. This technique can be used to estimate some parameters to be used in other methods. For example, what percentage of the original activity duration estimate should be used as a contingency reserve, and in comparing an activity to a similar activity in a previous project during analogous estimation? Analogous estimating techniques estimate the duration of an activity based on the duration of a similar activity in a previous project. The accuracy of the estimate depends upon how similar the activities are and whether the team member who will perform the activity has the same level of expertise and experience as the team member from the previous project. Analogous estimating is typically a form of expert judgment that is most reliable when the previous activities are similar to the current activity and when the team members preparing the estimates have the necessary experience. ISBN

34 This is a simple technique used to calculate the activity duration when the productivity rate of the resource performing the activity is available. You can use the following formula: Activity duration = Units of work in the activity / Productivity rate of the resources. For example, 25m 4 days to If a groundwork gang consisting of six built operatives daily 100m wall plus their equipment complete can lay 50 square meters of reinforced concrete in a day, by 5 the bricklayer duration calculation can wall be performed as follows: Activity duration = 250 square meters / (50 square meters/day) = 5 days Activity Duration 5 Days Units of work 250m 2 Productivity rate of resources 50m 2 This technique relies on the statistical relationship that exists between a series of historical data and the variables in question. When this data is being drawn from a large body of historical data taken from similar projects, then it can yield accurate estimates. It provides several advantages as an estimating technique for example they: Allow estimates to be prepared in much less time than required by more detailed techniques. Require quantitative inputs that are linked to algorithms providing quantitative outputs. All costs are traceable. If two estimators input the same values for parameters, they will get the same resulting cost. Provide a consistent estimate format and estimate documentation. Provide costs for a range of input values, extrapolating to derive costs for projects of a different size or nature. Highlights the design parameters used. Able to provide key statistical relationships and metrics for comparison with other projects. ISBN

35 The disadvantages of this method are: 1. Models will not exist for activities until there is a sufficiently large experience base for the activity. Basing estimates on work that is only vaguely comparable will yield inaccurate estimates. 2. Physical parameters, for example number of bricks laid, area of trees cleared or number of widgets produced are far more meaningful than non-physical parameters for example, the number of lines of code in a software project. 3. There may be changes in technology or working practices. For example, an electrician s productivity is constrained by the speed at which he can chase out channels in the walls in which to lay cables, a job that used to be done with a hammer and chisel. The invention of an affordable power tool to do this job resulted in a significant increase in the amount of cable that could be laid per day. Three point estimates address the issue of uncertainty in estimating the activity duration. This uncertainty can be calculated by making a three-point estimate in which each point corresponds to one of the following estimate types: 1. Most Likely Scenario (ML)- the activity duration is calculated in most practical terms by factoring in resources likely to be assigned, realistic expectations of the resources, dependencies, and interruptions. 2. Optimistic Scenario (O) is the best-case version of the situation described in the most likely scenario. 3. Pessimistic Scenario (P) is the worst-case version of the situation described in the most likely scenario. 0 4 x ML P Total divided by 6 63 We then find 0 the average, but 4 we x ML first weight the Most Likely estimate by 4. The formula P 16hrs divided by 6 is (O + 7hrs (4*ML) + P) / 6. We 40hrs must divide by six because we in effect have = 10.5hrs six different estimates (although three of these estimates are the same number). This is because we are averaging (O + ML + ML + ML + ML + P) / 6. ISBN

36 Here s an example. A roofing contractor is replacing all of the tiles on the roof of a house. He estimates that the job will take his team 10 hours based on the expectation that they will need to replace some of the underlying timbers. This is his Most Likely estimate. If none of the timbers need replacing then the job will take 7 hours, this represents his Optimistic estimate. Total divided If 0most of the timbers 4 need x MLreplacing then the P job will take 16 hours, this by 6 represents his Pessimistic estimate. 0 7hrs 4 x ML 40hrs P 16hrs 63 divided by 6 = 10.5hrs This formula is most useful in estimating time or cost of activities for projects that are especially unique, such as in research and development where there are many unknowns. This step should include incorporating a time cushion into your schedule; this cushion is usually called a contingency reserve, time reserve, or time buffer. It s purpose is to accommodate the possibility of schedule risks. One method of calculating the contingency reserve is to take a percentage of the original activity duration estimate, although it can also be estimated by using quantitative analysis methods. When more information about the project becomes available, the contingency reserve can be reduced or eliminated. Usually, while estimating for large projects, managers would like to keep a buffer of 5% or so of the total estimate for the project to account for project schedule risks, like delays in procuring hardware or unexpected personnel problems. ISBN

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